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Cyprus needs technology to change real estate sector

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By Alex Michael

The term PropTech refers to any kind of technology that can improve the way people search, find, buy, sell, and manage properties.

The use of technology in the Real Estate sector reduces costs, minimizes the time required to complete transactions and brings greater transparency.

  • Reduced fees because technology cuts operational costs
  • Reduced fees due to greater transparency in the market and removing brokers from the equation
  • Better user experience than before (reduces waiting time and allows the buyer/ seller to be fully informed as to progress)
  • Data-driven advice and not simply based on the advisor’s personal opinion

There are many examples in which PropTech has significantly improved parts of the Real Estate market abroad (and we hope soon in Cyprus too).

For example, agreements with tenants have become much simpler with automated checks, electronic filing and submission of forms and digital signatures.

Furthermore, digital applications that take the role of the broker/intermediary for mortgages are being used with great success.

These applications are tasked to bring prospective borrowers in contact with respective lenders, improving and simplifying the process of obtaining a mortgage. Trussle is an example of such an application.

Other applications, like Nested, which are very user-friendly, help real estate agents make properties available online at low brokerage rates.

Additionally, applications like Rentify automate the process of renting properties and consequently increase properties’ revenue.

However, we encounter the above solutions mainly in developed countries abroad, where their relevant markets are much larger and more open to innovation.

In Cyprus, traditionally, the largest part of most families’ wealth is tied to real estate. Despite many non-professionals being involved, the sector still lacks transparency and is dominated by traditional agents.

It has not been until recently that we observed real estate agents with digital operations making their presence felt.

We are not suggesting the sector’s lack of transparency is caused by agents; a combination of factors is involved, like the lack of accurate, detailed, and up-to-date information in terms of transactions and property prices.

At the same time, the relevant government procedures are slow and, in certain cases, due to procedural delays and non-automated processes, may take months to complete.

As WiRE FS, one of the biggest issues we have found in our efforts to collect and digitalize information in the Real Estate sector (stay tuned for updates) relates to the available data being scattered on many occasions incomprehensible or meaningless, and in many cases, inaccessible to the average citizen.

As a result, in the recent past, we have seen citizens taking decisions based on incomplete or even misleading information on several occasions.

One of our main goals is to bring greater transparency to market prices and processes and offer the general public detailed and accurate information about transactions to be well-informed and have their own opinion when the time comes to buy or sell a property.

The use and utilization of technology and artificial intelligence will take us to the next level.

Alex Michael, Interim Chief Technology Officer, WiRE FS